The estimated cost of an MBA for a single student who lives off campus at Stanford University is slightly more than $212,000. Add to that tidy sum the opportunity costs of quitting a job at Google that paid about $75,000 a year, and your all-in cost for the Master of Universe degree comes to a formidable if not mind-numbing number: Nearly $390,000.
That’s the kind of hole Amanda Bradford dug for herself when she graduated from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business just three months ago. So what is she doing with that world-class education?
Would you believe she is launching an app on iTunes? Not just any app, mind you. It’s yet another dating app, a Tinder-like application for super picky people who want to meet other super picky people. In a world already cluttered with the likes of OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and Zoosk, there are more than 200 entries listed under dating apps on iTunes alone.
A TINDER FOR PICKY PEOPLE
Does the world really need another app for people who can’t get dates on their own? And does it really take an MBA from Stanford to launch an app company?
Probably not. But none of that seems to have deterred the 29-year-old Bradford, whose resume at least makes her prime dating material on what she is calling The League. Among other things, the app allows would-be daters to see the educational and work backgrounds of The League’s members, hooking then into the LinkedIn profiles and Facebook pages of users.
A glimpse of Bradford’s CV would lead most to wonder why she would waste her time with an app in a highly crowded field. After all, she graduated in 2007 from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in information systems, the relatively rare young woman with a STEM credential. Bradford then landed a job as a sales engineer and later account executive for salesforce.com. After a three-year stint there, she moved on to the hottest company in Silicon Valley: Google, first as a “pre-sales engineer” and finally in a biz dev role, working with Google product and engineering teams. Bradford even spent nine months at Sequoia Capital, the high-flying Silicon Valley VC, as an investor.
”WE WOULD SEND EACH OTHER THE MOST HORRIFYING TINDER PICTURES’
You’d think someone with that kind of glitter on a resume, topped by a Stanford MBA, no less, would think up a more substantive business than a dating app. Last year, a record 18% of Stanford MBAs founded companies, but few of those startups were created to do just an app (see table on following page).
Nonetheless, the path to app-dom was clear when Bradford and her first-year classmates put Tinder on their smartphones and became increasingly intrigued–and appalled–by what they saw.
“We would send each other the most horrifying Tinder pictures we’d seen that day, guys doing asinine things, half-naked people,” Bradford says in an interview at her San Francisco office. And though she and her friends would laugh about awful material on Tinder, she was struck toward the end of 2013 by something else: just about everyone she knew was using it.
“What I saw was a huge consumer behavior shift in my demographic,” Bradford says. “Guys and girls in my network who I’d never seen on a dating app . . . all of a sudden had this Tinder app installed on their phones. It was kind of this fun thing that everyone in my generation was doing.”